I’m of the opinion that there is an upside down bell curve as it relates to the number of people – and therefore questions – that we are facing whom don’t know our story. It goes something like this: as we were in the hospital and immediately afterwards, we were only surrounded by close friends/family and our story was only shared through face-to-face conversation or this blog…essentially everyone that we dealt with knew what was going on. As the days went by and we were forced back into life, we started to go to more publicly exposed places (ie: parks, grocery store, work, etc) and ran into a few people that we loosely knew through various past ventures that didn’t know what had happened; and even a few of them knew that we were expecting, but didn’t know the outcome. So we started to have to have uncomfortable, somewhat superficial conversations with people that we rarely see…because we just aren’t going to lie about it. And deflating someone’s day with such sad news isn’t a fun thing to do.
As a little more time has passed, it seems like we have now run into just about everyone that we are going to see on a regular basis, hold a few exceptions. Most notably are family members that know the story, but we just haven’t seen in person yet due to distance. These are encounters that we are just going to have to deal with as they come – but they are anticipated. The other notable exception is people that are so loosely affiliated with us that they know us by circumstance, but don’t know anything about us….like the person that gives me a haircut, amongst others (side note because I know a few of you are already thinking it: yes, I go and get my head shaved somewhere and yes, I could do it at home….but there is a business here in town that is a tremendous supporter of the fire department, so I decide to support them).
As I sat in the chair yesterday morning, the usual simple banter started….How are you doing today? (PS – when you answer this questions even remotely honestly – ‘ok’ – you get several follow up questions of disbelief and attempted resolution) Are you sure your just ok? What are you up to today? Don’t have to be at work?….then the inevitable begins, and it goes down a road that you just can’t stop no matter how hard you are pulling on the brakes….You have a kid right? How old is he? Does he have any brothers/sisters? Are you going to have anymore?
These are all innocent enough questions, and assuredly safe enough to ask 99% of the time. But being in our shoes on this end of the question, it’s a tough spot to be in. Due to the extent of relationship (or lack thereof) and what was mentioned earlier about not having a lot of fun ruining someone’s day, I have now come to a place where I answer them as bluntly and simply as possible. How many kids do you have? One. Are you going to have anymore? I don’t know. No drawn out tales of the past several months. No in depth explanation why I am ‘only ok.’ Tears and stomach butterflies being repressed with all available resources.
The difficulty is that we don’t know when or where they are going to come from. Going out to get a simple 10 minute haircut and tripping into a world of emotion is stomach churning each time. Of course neither of us hold anything against anyone who asks these questions to us….to start, they care enough to even ask. We both know that we are likely going to encounter these types of conversations for a long while to come, and some variant of these conversations for the rest of our lives. I suppose that on some level, they are forcing us to confront what has happened in a visible way…and they are forcing us to think about Liam – which no matter how difficult it may be, isn’t bad at all.